Having a third place can be an important setting to get the most out of your workforce and give them a break from their routine. But what exactly is it and how can it help expand your business network?
What is a Third Place?
The Third Place meaning comes from sociologist Ray Oldenburg who developed the theory in the 1990s. He saw home as the First Place, your workplace as the Second Place, with the Third Place being a bridge between the two where you can interact and share ideas in a relaxing manner.
In recent times, businesses have adopted the third place as a setting where workers can get away from a stagnant work environment. A third place can be perfect for invigorating staff and as a place to network with like-minded individuals in a more casual environment.
Traditionally, examples of the third place would be the likes of cafes and parks which are much more relaxed than corporate offices. Other examples of great third place locations can be clubs, gyms, or even a golf course!
A third place can also be integrated into a coworking spaces today. The third place allows you to break away from your typical office setting and conduct your business in a neutral environment, away from the typical pressures.
Top 5 Benefits of a Third Place
There are many benefits of a third place, especially when expanding your business network. Here are our top five advantages.
Neutral Zone – A third place allows for a neutral zone where there are fewer expectations on private obligations and attire. You and fellow business associates can talk freely in a friendly setting without the need to worry about showcasing your office or setting up meeting rooms. This allows more people to feel welcome into the third place environment.
More Varied Network – When you invite someone to a third place for business networking, you’re likely to get a more diverse network with people from many companies and a wide range of backgrounds. This means you can reach more people than you would in a traditional setting.
No Hierarchy – People can find offices intimidating, especially when you need to step into the boss’ office or into a formal meeting room. In a third place, the hierarchy is much less obvious, and this allows people to feel more relaxed to be open and honest.
Productivity – Going to the same place every day at the same time can make life feel like Groundhog Day and stifle creativity. A third place will refresh the attendees and allow for more creative thought. The result can be a sharp increase in productivity.
Welcoming Atmosphere – Many find networking events to be boring and lifeless, especially when done in traditional office settings. A third place environment is usually much friendlier with the chance to have something to eat and drink, and share ideas.
5 Ways to Build Your Network with a Third Place
How can you build a business network with a third place? There are five great ways that we have found. With these ideas, you can utilise the third space to bring in more creativity and expertise into your business.
Take the Lead – When networking, it’s important to be proactive and look for opportunities rather than waiting for them to come to you. Look for events in your area and if you can't find them, create them yourself using a third place as the hub for it.
There are many ways to do this, such as emailing out an invite to your staff and asking them to invite anyone who may be interested. With a third place, you’re much more likely to get a better buy-in from potential attendees.
Set Up a Group – This links in with being proactive but a great thing to do for business networking is to create a group. For example, this can be a collection of local business professionals who meet up to share ideas on collaboration and growth.
As mentioned above, a third place is a neutral ground that can take away any egos and the need to show off. You can use a flexible workspace to ensure the success of your group.
Respond Promptly – If you want to make your networking as successful as possible, you need to be attentive to questions of those in your network. Don’t let invites go unanswered and ensure that any queries about your flexible workspace are answered.
In networking events, many look for someone to be the voice of the gathering and ensure that it's a success.
Be Amiable – Networking with a flexible workspace will never be successful unless you are approachable. You need to put on a friendly face and make people as comfortable as possible with their environment.
This is why a third place can be so important. In a relaxed environment, people will naturally be more relaxed, curious, and friendly.
Share Your Hobby – Not sure about what topics to start a conversation in a third place? For instance, you can always initiate a conversation by sharing a hobby. From attending a music concert to playing golf in a driving range, pastimes are always a good entry point to a conversation, under a relaxed environment.
As time goes on, we’re evolving further away from the traditional workplace. While this was no doubt accelerated by Covid-19, there has long been a trend for businesses to be more flexible with their workspaces and employees.
Using a third place to network can be extremely effective and allow you to grow your contacts and expand your network. If you are looking to take your networking to the next level, then make sure to utilise a third place and flexible workspaces.